Turrican Anthology: I Turrican't complete it

Otherwise-excellent compilations are somewhat stuck in the past

Look - I'm opening myself up to insistery that I git gud. And that's fair. I respect that position, generally speaking. I'm afraid I do earnestly believe that a lot of difficulty complaints about game difficulty are absolutely ridiculous - "The game doesn't respect my time", it's a game, pal, respect your own time and don't play it. But it's a moot point, and an anger-inducing one. The dreaded difficulty discourse isn't really a factor in this blog, just kind of incidental to it. Turrican Anthology Vol. I and Turrican Anthology Vol. II. Two compilations, one series.

Well, actually, it's sort of three compilations; much of the content here was already included in Turrican Flashback a year or two ago - here's the complete rundown of all three sets so you can go "eh?" at them, like I did:

Turrican Flashback: Turrican, Turrican 2, Super Turrican, Mega Turrican

Turrican Anthology Vol. I: Turrican, Turrican 2, Super Turrican, Super Turrican Director's Cut, Mega Turrican Score Attack

Turrican Anthology Vol. II: Turrican 3, Mega Turrican, Mega Turrican Director's Cut, Super Turrican 2, Super Turrican Score Attack

Even without extensive knowledge of the series, you have to acknowledge that this is a bizarre split. For one thing, Flashback and Anthology Vol. I contain almost exactly the same games. The only difference is Mega Turrican, relegated to Anthology Vol. II in the newer collections, but paired with Turrican 3 which is, essentially, the Amiga take on Mega Turrican. There's a lot of repeated content here, basically, and to be entirely frank if they had just put Super Turrican 2 on the Flashback compilation it would have been completely inessential to release the Anthology sets at all if not for the want to put expensive physical editions out there; the Anthologies were available as physical carts long before this digital release.

So what else is there to pick at? We have the Director's Cut versions which aren't really "Director's Cuts" per se; they're pre-release, essentially unfinished takes on the final games. There are some brief new level sections, effects that were previously cut and one short (but perfectly fine) new stage, but these are counterweighted by visual and sound glitches in places. The Score Attack versions offer a large new stage apiece, but are honestly nothing special. It's all very spread out and very irritating for having been spread out.

The most major issue I have here, though, and the one I alluded to a thousands years ago in the first paragraph, is the difficulty. These games are hard - nails hard, at times, and through occasionally slapdash design rather than any considered, balanced challenge. Super Turrican 2 is largely a wretched ordeal, favouring impressive displays of SNES technology over anything that could be called genuinely thoughtful level design. And that would still be okay, sort of, because the game has full save states, rewind and a few map options to give you something of a leg-up over its occasional cruelty. But here's the kicker - if you want to unlock anything, such as the galleries full of concept art included with each game, you'll need to beat them. On their included "Challenge Mode", which locks out any kind of saving, all rewinding and dissallows the use of the games' original cheats. You can unlock cheats for each game, too, but you need to beat them legitimately first.

And, um, what the hell? I thought we'd all moved on past this! Why would you lock away one of the most interesting bonus features behind such demanding criteria? And yeah, I know - get good - but this is a compilation, these are games that were never brilliant; this is a historical record and as such the historical content should be available. Why not give the concept art to players who make their way to the end of the games even having used save states? Or, better yet, just have them available from the off. While I recognise this is a niche product with niche appeal, the Turrican fanbase (who are spending £30 apiece on these Anthologies) should be able to enjoy all their content from the get-go. Let them play! Let them cheat! What does it actually matter? Recording game clears via the in-game accomplishment system is enough for hardcore Turricanites to be incentivised to play "for real", locking away the fun cheats and cool art is ridiculous. I'll never see it, because I'll never clear Super Turrican 2 under the expected criteria. Nobody should.

So that's a very negative write-up of a collection of games that I really like and should absolutely be played by anyone who enjoys a good platform shooter. They're flawed, dated titles, but there's plenty of cool stuff to see. The display options are pretty exemplary and the new maps and predictive "zoomed-out" view options do add a great deal to the earlier games, it's just a shame that the expectations of the player are set so high where it comes to unlocking content. Truthfully, overall, if you want a Turrican fix I'd strongly recommend Flashback; you miss out on Super 2 but that's kind of like dodging a bullet; what the set lacks in extra features, it makes up for in value. Flashback is £20 for the four best Turricans, and the Anthologies are thrice the price for the same four games plus a load of essentially trivial tat. The Anthologies aren't even really complete, as they're lacking the NES and Game Boy instalments, but to be fair that isn't a huge loss. Your mileage may, as ever, vary.